If you’ve decided to take the DELF then that’s exciting news in itself, but before you get carried away dreaming about being B1 French, it’s important to know how to prepare for the DELF.
But first off let’s answer the question that you probably already know but just in case:
What is the DELF?
The DELF is the official French language exam that tests your French proficiency. It tests for levels A1 – B2. To take the C1 or C2 exam you need to take the DALF.
How To Prepare For The DELF
Study As Part Of A Course
One of the best ways to prepare for the exam is to study as part of a course. If you can study through at a B2 level, then take some B2 exam classes, that’s the best way to prepare for the B2 exam and likewise with the other levels.
Even if it’s once a week, a course can help you with the necessary grammar and you also have to speak French during the time you’re in the class so you will be getting practise and exposure.
Of course taking a course is not realistic for everyone and if this doesn’t work for you then there are other steps you can take to prepare for the DELF.
Use Textbooks To Help You Prepare
A fantastic way on how to prepare for the DELF is to use textbooks. Although people aren’t always a huge fan of textbooks, they are a necessity when studying for a language exam, especially if you aren’t able to take a course.
Textbooks for each level will cover the topics, vocabulary and grammar of each level. So if you work your way through the appropriate book you should be sufficiently prepared when it’s time to take the exam.
It is recommended that you use a course book to work your way through the material and then a past paper textbook to prepare for the exam itself. You an find our top recommended textbooks for the DELF here.
Do Past Papers
You don’t just want to know the material of the course, you also need to know what’s coming up in the actual exam. And the best way to do this is to use past papers.
There are many textbooks you can buy to help you with this. Or you’ll be able to find them online. Ideally you want to be doing one a week for the two months leading up to the exam, but if that’s not possible make sure you do at least a couple so you know what to expect on the day of the exam.
You can find some sample past papers here.
Live In A French Speaking Country
One of the best ways to help you study is to live in a French speaking country while you’re preparing. Unfortunately this isn’t possible for everyone and if it isn’t for you, then don’t worry. Many people have managed to pass the DELF without having lived in a French speaking country.
However, if it’s possible for you, even if just for a month, then I would highly recommend it. Living in a French speaking country will give you the opportunity to use your French as much as possible.
You will be able to conduct every translation in French, find French friends and just be exposed to a lot of it as you go about your day.
People who have lived in a foreign country have noticed their languages skills going up dramatically. Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you can do it it will help you a lot when it comes to the exam, especially in the listening and speaking sections of the DELF.
Try And Live In French
This is linked to the point above and it is that you should be trying to live as much of your life as possible in French. Obviously if you’re in France this is a lot easier. But even people who are living in a French speaking country will still spend most of their lives in English, especially if their friends are expats too.
If you can find other people who are taking the exam try and surround yourself with them. Try and do everything possible in French, even socialising.
And if this isn’t possible for you, or example if you’re in the UK then don’t worry. You can still try and live in French. Narrate things in French as you go around the house, find language partners, see if you can talk to your partner in French.
Now that we have the internet you can expose yourself to movies, books, musics, podcasts. It could even be that while you are in the house, you’re living in a micro French environment even if you’re in an English speaking country.
This can be difficult but you have the power to change elements of your environment into French places. You just need to make an effort and start building some habits.
Get As Much Exposure As Possible
Again this idea is very similar to the previous idea and this is to get as much French exposure as possible. Wherever it is possible make sure you are getting exposure.
A great way to do this is to change the language settings on your devices. If you change the language settings to French then you’re going to become familiar with it on a day to day basis.
Instead of reading the news in English switch to French. Watch your favourite shows with French audio to improve your listening.
Wherever you can get French exposure make sure you try to get it.
Learn The Necessary Grammar
Grammar can be boring but it’s important in an exam. Although your language skills can benefit a lot from other means of learning, if you’re taking an official language exam they do often expect you to have mastery of the grammar at the current level you’re at.
Therefore it is highly recommended that you make the effort to study the grammar of the level you’re taking. A textbook can help a lot with this.
Don’t worry, if you make the odd grammatical mistake in the exam you won’t be failed, but it is a part of the exam that you should take as seriously as any other section.
If you’re wanting to know how to prepare for the DELF, then one of the biggest pieces of advice would be don’t overlook the grammar.
Get Reading Comprehension Through The News
In the reading comprehension parts of the exam you will often have non fiction sections that you have to read with unusual vocabulary.
A great way to practise this is to start reading the news every morning in French instead of English. This exposure will help you practise reading the type of articles that will come up in the exam and will also expose you to more difficult vocabulary that might come up as well.
Speak As Much As You Can
This may seem like a no brainer but speak as much as you can during the lead up to your exam. If you’re not in France then use conversation exchange or italki to find people to practise speaking with.
There might also be meet ups in your city that you can attend to practise your French before the DELF.
And if you literally have no one to talk to then narrate what you’re doing. Speak French as you go around the house. Say everything you can in French to get you used to speaking. This will help you a lot when it comes to the oral section of the exam.
Read French Graded Readers
Graded readers are books that have been written for specific levels for different languages. If you’re taking an exam try and find a graded reader at your level to practise reading.
So if you’re taking the A2 exam look for French graded readers at a beginner or A2 level, and likewise with the other levels.
You can find our best French graded reader list here.
We hope you’ve found this article on how to prepare for the DELF useful. If you have any other questions just ask us and if you’d like to learn more about the DELF then you can read our commonly asked questions here.